Thursday, March 02, 2006

Classification of Transport

Classification of Transport:- The modes of transportation is classified into following categories:-

(1) Land Transport:-

• Human portage
• Animal Transport
• Motor and truck Transport
• Railway Transport
• Pipeline Transport

(2) Air Transport:-

(3) Water Transport:-
• Inland Water Transport
• Ocean Transport

Elements of transport

The movement of goods or passenger traffic, through rail, sea, air or road transport requires adequate infrastructure facilities for the free flow from the place of origin to the place of destination. Irrespective of modes, every transport system has some common elements

a) Vehicle or carrier to carry passenger or goods
b) Route or path for movement of carriers
c) Terminal facilities for loading and unloading of goods and passengers from carriers
d) Prime Mover
e) Transit time and cost
f) Cargo

These elements influence the effectiveness of different modes of transport and their utility to users.

Vehicles: The dimension of vehicles, its capacity and type are some of the factors, which influence the selection of a transport system for movement of goods from one place to the other. In sea transport, the size, speed and type of ship to be used are very important. For road transport, capacity, moving dimensions, and speed of the vehicle are of great significance. In case of rail transport the existing railway line capacity, type and general availability of wagons are to be considered. The capacity of vehicles and their sectional speed determine the throughput on a particular section. With saturated sectional capacity, introduction of vehicles tends to reduce their speed and therefore the total through put. Preference of vehicles depends on factors like cost, speed and time of travel. The cost of a vehicle is the resultant of many different internal and external factors, which are highly inter-related. The advantage of vehicle over the other is measured in terms of safety, speed and time of travel.

Routes: Routes play an important role in movement of carriers from one point to another point. It may be surface roads, navigable waterways and roadways. Availability of well-designed and planned routes without any obstacle for movement of transport vehicles in specific routes, is a vital necessity for smooth flow of traffic. The routes for water and air transport are basically gifts of the nature whereas it’s not true for land transport. Route is an important determinant of effectiveness of various modes of transport. It determines the speed, cost, and capacity of transportation. The routes must have adequate capacity to absorb traffic demand. Over congestion of routes may lead to higher maintenance cost, accident and ultimately lead to delay in transportation. Unless the existing capacity is increased, there may be adverse effect on the movement of various mode of traffic.

Terminal Facilities: - The objective of transportation cant be fulfilled unless proper facilities are available for loading and unloading of goods or entry and exit of passengers from carrier. Terminal facilities are to be provided for loading and unloading of trucks, wagons etc on a continuous basis. Transportation of heavy and bulk cargoes depends on the loading and unloading facilities available at terminals. These facilities also affect the cost of transportation. If these facilities are provided then the cost of transportation can be minimized. Beside these things adequate storage space, loading and unloading facilities, sufficient number of marshalling yards and weighing equipment must be available in these terminals.

Prime Mover: - the power utilized for moving of vehicles for transportation of cargo from one place to another is another important aspect of the total movement system. In railways, diesel engines are required for shunt and marshalling of wagons within the marshalling yards. Suitable designing of conveyors and mechanical loaders can reduce the manual labour in case of coal, cement, aluminum and other goods etc.

Transit time and cost: - Transportation involve time and cost. The time element is a valid factor for determining the effectiveness of a particular mode of transport. The transit time of available system of transportation largely determines production and consumption pattern of perishable goods in an economy. The relative locations of a plant and the customers or suppliers determine largely the transit time for the raw materials, spare parts and finished goods. The transit time of transportation could be viewed from the following angles:

1. Normal transit time under normal conditions.
2. --------------------------------Abnormal conditions.
3. Optimal transit time.
4. Desirable transit time.

Considering the time element, the air transport has been proved as a superior mode of transport as compared to road and water transport. To avoid delays the customers often choose air transport as a means of transport, which is definitely costly for them. Further, cost is an essential element of transporting goods from one place to another. Cost is influenced by other elements like capacity of carriers, terminal facilities, time etc.

• Cargo: - Transportation basically involves movement of cargo from one place to another. Hence, nature and size of cargo constitute the basis of any goods transport system. The nature of product handled, their packing and other specialized requirements influence transport.

Present Scenario

The programmes of transport development occupy a significance place in our five-year plans. Transport has been seen as the basic infrastructure, which is crucial for the success of a developmental plan. The second Plan was more forthright in stressing the need for transport development when it stated: "An efficient and well developed system of transport and communication is vital to the success of a plan of economic development which lays stress on rapid industrializations." The theme has run throughout all the plans development.

In the movement of raw materials products from their place of production to their place of consumption transportation is the most important component of the logistics system. It serves two purposes:-

1) product movement
2) In-transit product storage

The movement can be achieved through various modes such as road, rail, air and sea subject to the availability of and access to infrastructure. The guiding principle for choosing a mode of transportation is the least cost per unit weight / volume of the product moved over a unit distance. However selection of a particular mode is dependent on the availability of transportation infrastructure in the region.

In India 39 percent of the total cargo movement is by road, followed by rail, which contributes to the extent of 35%, the balance is shared by inland water, air and sea.

Cargo Movements – Modal Comparison

Mode of Transport = Cargo handled ( billion km-ton) = Cargo handled million tonnes)
Road = 800 = 580
Rail = 334 = 510
Sea = - = 287
Air = 5.33 = 0.90
Pipelines = - = 30.5


It is the most promising means of agricultural and industrial advancement of a country. It is suitable for short and medium distances where other means are unable to reach. It provides door-to-door service, which is not possible with other means. It provides the basic infrastructure to bring trade and commerce from the remote rural areas to urban areas and vice-versa and brings far-off villages into the mainstream of national life, ensuring connectivity. Today road transportation occupies a predominant position in the transport network in the country. It offers a number of advantages:-

• Door-to-door service
• Flexibility
• Reliability
• Reach to remote places.
• Speed.

As regards the trucking industry in the country it is predominantly in the unorganized private sector and the bulk of truck operators are single truck owners. Currently 25 million trucks are plying on Indian roads. Indian road conditions not being good, the average distance traveled by a truck is 250-300 kms per day. The average operating cost of an Indian truck is Rs 15 per km.


Railways are the principle carriers of man and material and play a major role in the country’s trade and commerce activities. It is the main source of supply of essential commodities. The Indian Railways operate through a network of 6,896 railway stations across 62800 kms of route length with a route destiny of 138 km per 1000 sq mt of area. Goods movement is done through 2,53,186 wagons with a total carrying capacity of 10.6 million tonnes. 96% of IR’s cargo consists of bulk items such as coal, iron ore, cement, fertilizers, raw materials for steel plants, finished steel products and petroleum. Bulk cargo is transported through railways because of cost advantage over other modes.

To take care of increased domestic and international trade, Indian Railways introduced container service and goods trains to carry the box containers in 1967. Today IR handles 2 million ( tonnes equivalent to a 20-foot container) of box container traffic. To increase the share of rail traffic, IR is tying up with national road carriers to provide door-to-door service to their strategic clients. The Konkan Railways have introduced a unique system of transporting trucks loaded with cargo to the customer’s destination. The saves precious fuel which would otherwise have been used by a number of trucks carrying the trainload of cargo. Road traffic may be relieved to some extent and air pollution by these trucks will be eliminated.

Water Transport: -

Sea Transport

The shipping industry is divided into several parts such as
• Liner service
• Tramp Shipping
• Industrial services
• Tanker operations.

The shipping fleet across the world comprises of tankers, dry bulk carriers, container ships and special vessels. In India tankers account for 33% of the total fleet while dry bulk carrier contribute 32% of the total GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage) of the shipping fleet.

India has 55 shipping companies, of which 19 are exclusively involved in coastal trade, 29 in overseas trade and remaining engaged in both. Indian shipping is highly dependent on international trade with 95% of the total cargo being volume overseas cargo and 77% of the value moving by sea. Crude oil, oil products, iron ore, coal, food grain and steel are some major products transported through sea.

Inland Water Transport: (IWT)

This is an eco-friendly transportation mode. It plays a significant role in augmenting the country’s transportation infrastructure. India has 1,45,000 kms of inland water transportation infrastructure comprising of rivers, lakes and channels and this sector has recently started receiving attention from the government. In many western countries IWT has already emerged as an alternative mode of transportation
With the globalization of Indian economy and implementation of WTO directives in India, there will be greater to and fro movement of goods. This will add to the pressure on the already burdened transportation system of rail and road in India. The expansion of road is limited due to non-availability of land, high costs and environmental considerations. IWT is cost effective when compared to the infrastructural investments made in roads and railways. Moreover some hazardous commodities should not be transported by road, for this IWT is the best option. In view of the above constraints and advantages, the development of IWT has become relevant in today’s context. The major advantage of IWT is doubling of load capacities for a small increase in depth, thereby providing flexibility and cost elasticity, which doesnot exit in other modes of transportation. Besides lower fuel consumption and construction cost, IWT has the advantage of ensuring minimum human loss as opposed to frequent road and rail accidents.


The basic advantage of pipelines is that they reduce operational costs, though the initial investment is high. In India pipelines are used for oil transportation by all public and private sector petroleum refineries, for iron ore transportation it is used by the Kudremukh Iron Ore Project to transport iron ore over a distance of 67 kms, along the hilly terrain of the Western Ghats. Pipelines are eco-friendly transportation mode. The cost of moving oil by rail or road continues to rise every year, however, with pipelines this is just the opposite. The transportation cost of moving oil is Rs 1.15 per tonne per kilometre on a new pipeline, while it is Rs 0.87 on a depreciated pipeline. At the current rate, transportation of oil by road costs Rs 2.50 per tonne per km and Rs 2.00 per tonne per km by rail.

Currently 27% of the petroleum products (petrol, kerosene and diesel) ar moved by pipelines over a distance of 6,350 kms in India. Today, in India, pipelines move 30 million tonnes of oil per annum and this is expected to rise to 80 million tonnes by the year 2010.


In India more than 16% of the geographical area is hilly. Transportation in such areas is a problem because of the long circuitous routes. The transportation of goods and essential commodities to the hilly areas is sometimes crucial because of their strategic importance in the country’s defense programme. In view of oil shortages, ropeways can prove more economical and faster than road transport particularly in hilly area. Ropeways have the following advantages: -
• They cause least damage to the ecology
• Inaccessible hilly areas can be reached using the shortest routes
• Other modes of transportation are uneconomical.
• Bulk materials can be moved faster over short distances.

This mode of transport is used in hilly areas in Sikkim, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh. Currently 175 kms of ropeways are in use in the above territory for transportation of both materials and human beings.

Selection of transportation modes: -

For the transportation managers, cost, speed and reliability are the most important factors while selecting from amongst the available transportation options. The operating characteristics of different transportation modes are shown in the following table.

Characteristics = Rail = Truck = Water = Pipeline = Air
Speed = 3 = 2 = 4 = 5 = 1
Availability = 2 = 1 = 4 = 5 = 3
Dependability = 3 = 2 = 4 = 1 = 5
Capability = 2 = 3 = 1 = 5 = 4
Frequency = 4 = 2 = 5 = 1 = 3
Composite score = 14 = 10 = 18 = 17 = 16
'Lowest rank is best.

Speed and Reliability of Service: The speed of service, or the time elapsed in moving products from one facility to another and finally to the customer, is often more important than the cost of the service. Slower modes of transportation involve lower transportation cost; they also result in lower service levels. Their availability depends on the existing transportation infrastructure and the ability of the mode of transport to serve the given pair of locations. This sometimes becomes a major constraint in speedy delivery and necessitates the usage of inter-modal transportation.

Reliability: This means the ability of the carrier to deliver the shipment in good condition, within the stipulated delivery timeframe, to the customer.

Capability: It is the ability of the carrier to accommodate the cargo in terms of size, weight and quantity for transportation to its destination. This is very important for transporting odd sized and heavy products over long distances. Along with the mode of transportation, the other consideration is the availability of special material handling equipment.

Frequency: This refers to the number of schedules movements of the carrier between a pair of locations. Pipelines are preferred for the movement of liquid products because of their continuous availability. However, for solid products road carriers are the best option.
Transportation decisions are dependent on a number of others factors like the unit value of the product, predictability of demand, saving in transit time, cost of transport mode, its impact on inventory cost and the desired level of customer service. The selection of mode and the particular carrier is done on the basis of delivery time, delivery reliability, freight rate etc.

Characteristics of Alternative Transport Modes

Size and Weight Restrictions

Air: Little or no flexibility
Sea: Virtually Limited
Rail: Some dimensions restrictions (height)
Road: Height and Weight restrictions


Air: Highly regulated
Sea: Less regulated than air
Rail: Few Restrictions
Road: Less regulated than air


Air: Reliable product handling
Sea: Variable reliability
Rail: Transport vehicles have vibration and shunting problems
Road: Handling problems can occur often


Air: Temperature controlled containers are available
Sea: Controlled
Rail: Controlled
Road: Controlled

Cost per unit

Air: High
Sea: Low
Rail: Low
Road: Moderate

Transit Time and reliability

Air: Fast and reliable
Sea: Slow, reliability varies by port, full container loads are more reliable.
Rail: Reliable
Road: Versatile and usually offer good transit times; reliability varies with the service policy of each company.

Cost Structure for each mode

• Rail. High fixed cost in equipment, terminals, tracks, etc. Low variable cost.

• Highway. Low fixed cost (highways in place and provided by public support). Medium variable cost (fuel, maintenance, etc.).

• Water. Medium fixed cost (ships and equipment). Low variable cost (capability to transport large amount of tonnage.)

• Pipeline. Highest fixed cost (rights-of-way, construction, requirements for control stations and pumping capacity). Lowest variable cost (no labor cost of any significance).

• Air. Low fixed cost (aircraft and handling and cargo systems). High variable cost (fuel, labour maintenance, etc.).


dhandin said...

request U to provide indetail characteristics of pipeline transportation of iron ore

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Prerna Ramesh said...

can u just inform me what terrain ans slope conditions for a mountain and span of a river etc are required for going towards ropeways. i mean ...ropeways are ised as a supplement to road ways..what are the terrain conditions required for it to go for it..
plz./ the information to

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